In 1931 Paris, Anais Nin meets Henry Miller and his wife June. Intrigued by them both, she begins expanding her sexual horizons with her husband Hugo as well as with Henry and others…
Release Year: 1990
Rating: 6.3/10 (6,625 voted)
Stars: Fred Ward, Uma Thurman, Maria de Medeiros
In 1931 Paris, Anais Nin meets Henry Miller and his wife June. Intrigued by them both, she begins expanding her sexual horizons with her husband Hugo as well as with Henry and others. June shuttles between Paris and New York trying to find acting jobs while Henry works on his first major work, "Tropic of Cancer," a pseudo-biography of June. Anais and Hugo help finance the book, but June is displeased with Henry's portrayal of her, and Anais and Henry have many arguments about their styles of writing on a backdrop of a Bohemian lifestyle in Paris.
Writers: Anaïs Nin, Philip Kaufman
Maria de Medeiros
Richard E. Grant
(as Jean-Philippe Ecoffey)
Juan Luis Buñuel
(as Jean-Luis Bunuel)
Artus de Penguern
Henry's friend no. 1
Henry's friend no.2 – magician
Henry's friend no.3
Alexandre De Gall
Henry's friend no. 4 – clown
A True Adventure More Erotic Than Any Fantasy
Release Date: 5 October 1990
Filming Locations: Paris, France
Opening Weekend: $1,032,942
(5 October 1990)
Did You Know?
Director Kaufman first came into contact with Miller's works in the '50s while at the University of Chicago. He recalled that [i]Tropic of Cancer[/i] (mentioned in the film as the book Henry is in the process of writing) "was the ultimate secret book everybody was reading".
What don't I understand?
That I love you.
Love? You just want experience. You're a writer. You make love to whatever you need. You're just like Henry.
Phillip Kaufman's loving examination of Anais Nin's relationship with
and June Miller is an enthralling journey. In the film Anais is inspired
Henry and June to descend into a world of debauchery that fuels her erotic
writing. We the audience see Henry and June through the eyes of Anais,
which may mean it's not exactly as they really were, but rather a
romanticised version of them. This is NOT a biopic of Henry Miller, which
is the foolish mistake that some reviewers seemed to make on the films
The script tends to meander a bit, lacking any real plot. Each scene
for itself, some more successfully than others. But in the torrid climax
when Anais' wild ways have finally caught up with her, it all comes
nicely to leave a feeling of completion.
The cast is first rate. Maria de Medeiros, despite not having top
get's the bulk of the screen time as Anais. She has a captivating look,
embodies a sense of innocence throughout, despite displaying the most
promiscuous nature. If at times she overdoes the melodrama, she should be
commended for managing to purr out some rather flowery dialogue without
sounding silly. Many lesser actresses would have faltered.
In what is undoubtably the highlight of his film career, Fred Ward instils
Henry with some old styled charisma and gusto. While he gives us a
throughly entertaining Henry, I still however have trouble seeing this
character as a writer of erotic fiction. He seems too much like a man's
The original casting choice of Alec Baldwin would make more sense in this
case, but I doubt in the end he would have been as entertaining in the
Uma Thurman, as June, gives a memorable performance. It's the most showy
character in the film, and Thurman gets the chance for plenty of
scenery chewing. She uses the full scale of emotions and performs a
transformation of the character from menacing seductress to pitiful
emotional wreck. Despite the surprising comments of one of the other
posters here, it really is one of the best performances of her young and
In support, Richard E. Grant is awkward (probably purposely) as Hugo,
well-hung and faithful husband. Jean-Philippe Écoffey is adequate as
cousin and brief lover. Kevin Spacey is amusing in what now looks like a
cameo, but then was quite an important role for him.
Philippe Rousselot's cinematography is beautifully done. He creates an
almost surreal feeling of Paris in the 1930's. The music is also well
placed and adds to this mood. Kaufman and Rousselot make the numerous
sex-scenes things of beauty rather than titillating, they get creative
them. In fact, the film is surprisingly unarousing considering the amount
of sex occurring in it. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing I
you can decide for yourself. Why on earth it got an NC-17 rating I don't
know. I doubt it would if released today.
Not everyone will like this film. It is 'arty farty' so to speak. It's
maybe even a little pretentious. But I find it to be a fascinating and
plain absorbing trip. I have managed to find the time to watch it quite a
few times, and it seems to improve with age. I recommend it to any